Moeen Ali tells new England head coach Brendon McCullum he’s willing to come out of Test retirement

Moeen Ali has told Brendon McCullum that he is willing to come out of Test retirement to help the new England head coach rebuild his red-ball fortune, and his close friend and swingmate Adil Rashid could join him.

McCullum wants to put together a team of cricketers to ‘dominate at the top’, and has singled out both men, along with Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone, as players who can bring strength in depth in all conditions to the England Test squad. .

Ali, who took 195 wickets with his breaks and scored 2,914 runs in 64 Tests, withdrew from the format in September, citing a lack of motivation. He also felt that former captain Joe Root mistreated him at times. But The Mail on Sunday understands that he has already spoken to McCullum about his future.

Moeen Ali has withdrawn from Test cricket due to lack of motivation but could return once again

A source said: ‘He respects Brendon immensely and would play for him. He has always been committed to England and wants to continue. He will help when needed.

With England due to play three Tests in Pakistan this winter, McCullum, whose first task is to beat compatriots New Zealand in a three-match series that begins at Lord’s on Thursday, will want as many spin bowling options as possible.

Ali may also enter the count against South Africa in August. In his last visit here four years ago, he scored 252 runs and took 25 wickets at 15, including a hat-trick at The Oval.

Told that Ali had withdrawn from Test Cricket, McCullum replied: ‘We’ll see. I’m sure if Mo wanted and was prepared to put up the yards to get back to the side, then he would challenge him, hands down.

Ali could be accompanied by his close friend Adil Rashid (pictured), but his situation is more complicated

Ali could be accompanied by his close friend Adil Rashid (pictured), but his situation is more complicated

The situation of Rashid, who spins his legs, is more complicated. Like Ali, he fell in love with Test cricket during Root’s reign, and hasn’t played a first-class match of any kind, including for Yorkshire, since the Bridgetown Test in January 2019.

It doesn’t help that there are few opportunities to show he can still throw long stretches on the red ball. Between now and September, the only four-day county match that doesn’t collide with Rashid’s cue-ball commitments for England is against Hampshire, starting June 12.

Despite that, a long-standing shoulder problem is now a thing of the past, and he is said to be excited about being part of McCullum’s dynamic set-up, assuming he can get enough first-class cricket under his belt.

All seven of his four-wicket hauls in Test matches have come in Asia, making the Pakistan tour more of a focus. He is 34 years old, the same age as Ali, but he is said to be nowhere near contemplating retirement.

“I’m not sure someone like Adil would play every game every year anyway,” McCullum said. “But my mindset is, if they are the best cricketers, why not have a conversation and see where it goes?”

Brendon McCullum (pictured) wants to put together a team of cricketers to

Brendon McCullum (pictured) wants to put together a team of cricketers to ‘dominate at the top’

The same applies to Buttler, who has been the star of this year’s IPL, scoring four hundred for Rajasthan Royals, and Livingstone, who has yet to win a Test cap but whose powerful cue ball strike caught the eye of the new coach. .

Left for the recent tour of the Caribbean after a disappointing Ashes, Buttler appears in danger of turning his back on Test cricket entirely. But he has strong defenders in Ben Stokes, the new England captain, and McCullum himself, who believe he can add more to his 57 Test appearances.

“He’s one of those players that you instantly look at and think, ‘How can he be so dominant in one form of the game and not have found his place, apart from a few fleeting performances, in Test cricket?’ said McCullum.

“I look at all those guys and I think there will be a time where they can have a chance if they invest enough. There’s probably been a little bit of pain at times for them, because they’ve been on and off the team and there hasn’t been that persistence for them.

“They’ve all played international cricket before, they’ve been successful in the other forms of the game and you’d think they could transition. If you have some of these other guys wanting to play, kicking the door down with their own performances, then you have a team that can dominate at the top.’

As for Livingstone, who lit up the summer of 2021 with his pavilion-clearing sixes, McCullum said: “A conversation needs to be had about what his appetite is for Test cricket.” And if he wants to play, how does he see himself getting on the side?

“I don’t have any preconceived thoughts about whether it’s good enough or not. I just look at him and I think he’s a very good cricketer, and I think he’s worth having a conversation about.

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